Who would have thought 40 years ago that as Americans we could have a positive impact on Vietnam? Personal Brilliance is now available in Vietnamese.

We work so hard on our own brilliance it’s easy to forget that nature is an example of brilliance every day. We can think of nature as our laboratory to see brilliance regularly. We’ll discuss biological mimicry in an upcoming post. This week we experienced the supermoon in the sky each evening.

The supermoon is 14% larger and 30% more brilliant because of it’s closeness to the earth.

Here are pictures of the supermoon in various locales around the world. Enjoy.

Photo credit: bling_rocks

I played 9 holes of golf yesterday.

So what? Well, 70+ degrees in Columbus, OH in March is unusual but the real significance is that I had my third surgery on my left knee January 31. It was a relatively minor clean-up of torn cartilage on this reconstructed knee. Relatively speaking, not that big a deal.

However, anytime one of your limbs is damaged and unuseable the little milestones make a big difference.

Rehab is hard, painful, and very lonely. You bask in the small hurdles – bending your knee, going up steps; much later going down steps; walking into a room and nobody noticing; one more minute and one more level on the exercise bike; a good report from the surgeon.

Then finally being able to touch your sport – hitting a couple balls with minimal pain, and then playing nine holes.

The feeling of accomplishment and joy in each of these little milestones, enhanced by the setbacks, is what is significant.

I think frequently about the soldiers coming back without limbs and their climb back. I think how petty a little pain really is in the grand scheme of things.

Back to the nine holes of golf yesterday. I played really well. For those of you who play you know about the golf lobotomy that happens over the off season which makes your first round a great one because you’re free of all the thinking that happens with the golf swing.

But, I think I played well for another reason. The gratitude for being able to even be there. The joy in the process. The appreciation for each shot because it easily could be the last one.

That feeling is what drives superior performance.

The trick – can we access those feelings and create the aura of gratitude and joy more frequently?

Photo credit: Vidbyanas Golf Club

Strength in Numbers

February 16, 2012

There is no doubt that there is strength in numbers. Taking your idea to an organization that will share your concern and enthusiasm is a great way to add power and momentum to your plan.

This story of social media occurred many years ago, before the technology we enjoy today. For 70 years or so, individual Lions Clubs and districts in the United States, Canada, and several other countries have collected eyeglasses for distribution to the needy in developing nations. The Lions Club adopted the mission of making sight conservation their major goal after members heard an impassioned speech presented by Helen Keller at Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1925.

In that speech, Helen challenged the Lions to become Knights of the Blind, a challenge that has become a rallying cry for Lions’ projects around the world.

When one person enrolls a group of others in a worthy cause, there’s no telling what can happen.

Take initiative and make a difference. Maybe it will change the world.

Photo credit: uppityrib

Maintain Engagement

January 26, 2012

As a marketer the number one goal is to maximize the prospects’ engagement with your product. Assuming it is a good product the more the prospect spends with it, the more they will enjoy it and then of course the likelihood that they will become a long-term customer.

I pay much more attention to the time a reader spends on my web site than I do on the number of people who visit. If they get engaged they stick, they’re getting value. If people get value they remember.

How do you keep the focus of a prospect on your offering as the hundreds of products fly by their consciousness?

Well, Albert Schweitzer said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.”

Tom Dickson and Blendtec have certainly tapped into this idea. By showing examples of their blender, in a fun and engaging way, people notice, they pause, they ask questions, they look for more. That’s what its all about.


Think about how you could show rather than tell when trying to get your brilliant ideas across.

Photo credit: Andrew Barron

Ask Questions Early

January 12, 2012

Charles Connolly a psychologist says that questions focus thinking. He suggests empowering questions like:

What’s good about this?

What’s not perfect about it yet?

What am I going to do next time?

How can I do this and have fun doing it?

These ARE powerful questions.

Make it a practice to notice the subtle changes and differences that are taking place within you and around you.

If you have an upset stomach, don’t just swallow an over the counter remedy. Look for reasons why you’re experiencing these symptoms. Is it what you’ve been eating? Is it stress? Is it eating too fast or too much? Is it the flu? The sooner you isolate the cause, the sooner you can address it. Treating the symptoms rarely takes care of the root cause.

If one of your colleagues or family members is acting differently toward you, resist the urge to take it personally and ask some questions. If you assume they are upset with you and avoid them or avoid looking into the reason for their behavior, a simple misunderstanding can snowball into a complete breakdown in communication.

Although we may fear the answers to our questions, by identifying the root cause of a situation, we can wisely use our time and energy to address it, rather than squandering it through fear, worry, and anxiety over an endless stream of possibilities.

Photo credit: christopher.woo

Life Balance

December 14, 2011

A trait of the innovator is an intensity of focus. Think about Thomas Edison sleeping in his laboratory or the engineers at Apple computer not sleeping for four days straight and living on pizza and coke. Boy, that really sounds glamorous and exciting, doesn’t it? Sure, as long as someone else is doing it. But for you and I:

I can’t be innovative because I have a family.

I don’t want to be a workaholic.

I want to have BALANCE.”

The pursuit of balance today is so important. (66%) of American and (77 %) British workers – that’s ¾ list their number one cause of stress as too heavy of a workload.

I’m just getting by,

I don’t have time to be innovative.

I spoke at a leadership seminar awhile back. I spoke in the morning and stayed for the afternoon session. The topic in the afternoon was life balance. The speaker was a psychologist. Her first exercise for the group was to have us break our time down for a week, on a percentage basis, among categories like time spent on work, family, health, hobbies, me, etc. The idea was that if we could have pretty equal percentages we were healthy and if we were lacking in a particular area it showed where we needed some work. Sounded good.

I tried the exercise but quickly became very frustrated. I just couldn’t break my time down that way.

One example is golf, which is a hobby and a passion. Ok, I’m addicted. I workout with specific exercises to support my hobby, I try to walk and carry my bag. A round is about 6 miles of walking. Is this health? I’ve built hugely successful personal and business relationships with people I’ve met while playing golf. Is this business or friends?  My family also plays, so we play together. Is this family time? Is this a hobby? Is this work?  Is this personal time? I couldn’t figure out how to do the exercise.

I was so frustrated, I stood up at great risk, because you see I had built a rapport with this audience all morning long, and asked the question – Dr., I’m really having trouble with this exercise, I need some help.  She responded, “yes, perhaps you should schedule an appointment with my office.” Professional speakers can be so catty. But as we discussed the issue as a group, she adapted her presentation to acknowledge that there is more than one kind of balance.

Like the seamless connection of the four Personal Brilliance catalysts, we should seek a seamless balance for our lives.

Photo credit: clairity

A bright lady I follow on twitter who lives in Philadelphia tweeted:

Note: Do not ask, “Who is Michael Vick?” in the office unless you want to eat alone at lunch forever.

Michael Vick is of course the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who just signed a $100 million contract. And of course there was that dog-fighting prison thing.

I am positive that this person who is oblivious to Mike Vick knows many more things than her colleagues because she spends her time in intellectual pursuits rather than following football. However, if she doesn’t know the basics she loses the opportunity to interact.

You might not like football but you should know your local team’s stars. Personal Brilliance Awareness requires an awareness of your environment. This awareness provides the key to access varying perspectives and ideas.

Ignorance is not bliss and it certainly is not attractive.

Pay attention to the basics. I know what a Kardashian is, that a pitch is what they call a soccer field, and that Jersey Boys is a musical and Snooki is a Jersey girl, even though none of these topics are interesting to me. Having an awareness for the day-to-day topics allow you into a conversation that may lead to a breakthrough.

To do: Study a topic that is far from your normal area. What can you learn about yourself?

Photo credit: Matthew Straubmiller


August 19, 2011

My friend David Staley discusses his concept of Universitas as a gathering of diverse minds to create and innovate. We get together each month (30-50 people) for dinner and discuss pertinent topics. In front of the group last night David mentioned a light bulb that turned on for him when he saw an ad for eHarmony, the dating site that attempts to match compatible personalities. David said what he’s interested in is the opposite of that for Universitas.

While listening to David, a new term came to mind. Contracompatible. Innovation benefits from diverse inputs. Seek them out.

In a group re-imagining schools there was an architect who builds schools, a psychologist, a former teacher, a doctoral candidate studying creativity education, a retired intellectual, and a graphic designer. The age and sex demographics also spanned the spectrum. I listened closely for the bias in each idea, including my own. How this group dealt with other group member’s bias was interesting. There were a number of combination ideas. The blended solutions were much stronger than what may have come from a group of school administrators working on the same problem. If this group was dating we would be considered contracompatible but for the purpose of innovation it was extremely valuable.

I have a dinner scheduled Saturday with the CEO of a multi-national company, a hospital administrator, a call center employee, and a retired sales executive. Some are staunch conservatives others deeply liberal. Age ranges from my age to 20 years older. Earlier in the day I’ll be with a former university hockey coach and a landscaper. I’m interested in what this brew may spark in my thinking. Who knows what will happen? That’s what contracompatibility is all about.

Photo credit: TriathleteFood

Situational Awareness

July 20, 2011

Awareness is critical to the invention process, specifically to help you identify a need in the marketplace. I’ve always found driving time as great thinking time. A three hour trip is sure to generate a great idea or two I will want to pursue.

An invention I’m working on now has to do with vehicle safety. The need came to while I was driving. My awareness was involved in driving and a near accident pointed out that the marketplace needed something to help prevent the situation I encountered. I’ll keep you posted on this invention.

The situational awareness we’re experiencing at any given moment can generate an innovation.

So, the best opportunity for innovation is the place you have your greatest situational awareness. Your interests, your job. Look at the processes and the products and solutions in your area of expertise.

Pay attention to the elegantly designed things. Let them inspire your habit of innovation. But also be aware of poorly designed tools or products. How can you improve them? Practice this approach in all areas of your life and then with the greater situational awareness an innovation can emerge.

Photo credit: serilium